Preterm birth means an unexpected disruption of pregnancy for the parents and parents are faced with the fear of medical complications or even the loss of their infant. Hence, most parents whose infants need neonatal care experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression than parents of healthy and term infants.Parental stress may lead to sub-optimal parent-infant relationships, child development and parental health. Although the importance of emotional support to parents of preterm infants during their infant’s hospitalisation is well documented, there is a knowledge gap in terms of how this support should be delivered.
Parents’ needs and perceptions on emotional support in neonatal care
The aim of this study was to explore parents’ needs for emotional support and how this emotional support could be delivered to parents of preterm infants during their infant’s admittance to a neonatal unit.
Study 1 took place at six neonatal units in Sweden. It had a qualitative design where 42 semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using qualitative content analysis; 26 individual telephone interviews with mothers of preterm infants six to ten months after discharge and 16 face-to-face interviews with parents of preterm infants admitted to neonatal units.
Longitudinal cohort study reveals different patterns of stress in parents of preterm infants during the first year after birth
The aim was to compare experiences of stress in mothers and fathers of preterm infants during the first year of life, assess changes in parental stress and explore potential predictors of parental stress.
Study 2 is a longitudinal cohort study, where data on parental stress were collected at 8 weeks after discharge and at 6 and 12 months postpartum from 493 mothers and 329 fathers of 547 preterm infants in Sweden. The SPSQ and SF-36 was used as a secondary outcome in a randomised clinical trial of breastfeeding support.